Collins’ 16-K Game Tops Weekly Awards List

Monday, April 1, 2024
by Evan O'Kelly, Assistant Commissioner For Communications

PORTLAND, Ore. – A 16-strikeout performance by Western Oregon right-hander Mackenzee Collins headlined the latest Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week awards, announced by the conference office on Monday.

Collins grinded out a 184-pitch, 9-inning performance to help the Wolves beat Simon Fraser 5-2 on Saturday, recording the highest strikeout total by a GNAC pitcher this season. Collins’ strikeout total was tied for the ninth-highest by any Division II pitcher in 2024, and it was the most by a GNAC pitcher since Western Washington’s Joie Baker struck out 16 hitters on Feb. 19, 2022.

Collins was two strikeouts shy of the GNAC single-game record of 18, held by Montana State Billings’ Megan Dettling (Feb. 8, 2018). “Mack came in this weekend and she was lights out both days,” said WOU head coach Aly Boytz. “When she gets in a groove she just goes for it, and this weekend she was in one of those grooves.”


Pitcher of the Week – Mackenzee Collins, Western Oregon

Second-career pitcher of the week, second this season.

Collins’ headline performance came after a seven-strikeout game on Friday in the Wolves’ 1-0 loss to SFU in eight innings. Collins led all GNAC pitchers last week in total strikeouts with 23 and opponents’ batting average at .155, while posting a 0.43 ERA across her 16 1/3 innings of work. The newcomer increased her GNAC-leading strikeout total on the season to 111, while lowering her ERA to a GNAC-second best 1.24.

“Mack is so successful because her goal is not necessarily to get strikeouts,” said Boytz. “She has huge confidence in the defense behind her, and that’s why she gets so many strikeouts. We talked a lot those last few innings about if we can go score, we can win because Mack can hold us on defense. Our offense relies so heavily on her, but we knew in that game we had to get her back and give her some run support.”

Also Nominated: Zoey Theophilus, CWU; Gina Skinner, NNU; Monica Bourque, SFU; Kaiana Kong, WWU.

Player of the Week – Maleah Andrews, Western Washington

First-career player of the week.

Andrews helped the Vikings to another 4-0 week as WWU extended its winning streak to nine games to stay tied for first in the GNAC standings. Andrews led all GNAC players last week in hitting (.538), on-base percentage (.625) and runs scored (6) while slugging at a clip of .615. Andrews had hits in all four of WWU’s games, none being bigger than her 10th-inning, walk-off single to give the Vikings a 2-1 win in the series opener. Not only was Andrews a difference-maker at the plate, but she played error-free defense in 22 chances at third base and helped the Vikings turn a pair of double plays.

“She has been great all year,” said WWU head coach Sheryl Gilmore. “On defense she brings energy and has good feet, a good glove and a great arm. She is really solid at the hot corner which allows us to have lock-down defense. What she did at the plate was great, and she came up clutch with the walk off. She is a great baserunner, is one of the most disciplined hitters we have and picks good pitches to swing at. She is well-rounded and is really a student of the game. Maleah is always asking questions which is cool to see from a freshman. She will continue to get better.”

Also Nominated: Alyssa Benthagen, CWU; Emma Mulligan, NNU; Abby McGlynn, SFU; Bella Valdes, WOU.


Player of the Week – Randy Stultz, Western Oregon

First-career player of the week.

Stultz played a key role in all three of the Wolves’ wins last week, hitting a GNAC-high .667 (6-for-9) and reaching base at a clip of .727 (8-for-11). Stultz kicked off his week going 2-for-2 with a double, a home run and four RBIs in the Wolves’ 13-3 rout of Montana State Billings. He followed that by going 4-for-7 in the second doubleheader of the weekend, adding two more RBIs, a double and three runs scored. Stultz played error-free defense in eight chances in left field in the series. “Randy really utilized our bye week to put in some extra work with Coach (Trevor) Podratz, and then took advantage of his opportunity to be in the lineup,” said WOU head coach Kellen Walker.

Also Nominated: Ben Leid, CWU; Kaden Kirshenbaum, MSUB; Carter Walsh, NNU; Alohi Arecchi, SMU.

Pitcher of the Week – Bryce Bond, Western Oregon

Second-career pitcher of the week, first this season.

Bond was crucial for the Wolves out of the bullpen last week, allowing just two baserunners for a WHIP of 0.42 across his two spotless appearances. Bond struck out four hitters across his 4 1/3 innings of work, while allowing just one hit and one walk on his way to a 0.00 ERA. Bond collected his third save of the season on Saturday, entering with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and preserving his team’s 2-1 lead with a gutsy strikeout. The right-hander went on to finish the game, retiring seven straight Yellowjackets to seal a series win for WOU. “We got two competitive outings from Bryce out of the ‘pen against a really good offense in the Billings lineup,” Walker said.

Also Nominated: Jonathan Garza II, CWU; Ryun Cross, MSUB; Blake Hammond, NNU; Isaiah Mayfield-Prieto, SMU.


Men’s Track Athlete of the Week – Coleman Nash, Alaska Anchorage

Third-career track athlete of the week, first this season.

Nash locked up a provisional national qualifying time in the 5,000 meters on Friday at the Stanford Invitational, checking in at 13:55.71. He was the top Division II finisher in the race, and his time was the third-fastest nationally thus far in 2024. The breakout performance saw Nash achieve his goal of a sub-14 minute race and put himself onto the national stage early in the outdoor season.

“The biggest highlight is how much adversity he’s gone through over the last year,” said UAA associate head coach Chas Davis. “Not until last Friday night at Stanford was he actually back with a race he was capable of. The goal was to play it safe, get under 14 and get back to nationals. He went out right on a 14-flat pace the entire way, and was savvy and smart enough to know he could go out towards the back of that pack. There was some concern with about four laps to go, but fortunately he was able to make the right decisions at the right times to stay on that pace. Every time the pace looked like it was going to get away from him, he was able to get right back on it. He had to run no slower than 66 flat on the final lap, and he responded immediately down the back stretch and closed with a 62. He looked very strong and confident.”

Also Nominated: Josh Green, CWU; Jaycee Herbert, MSUB; Andrew Thomson, SFU; Elwood Hosking, WOU; Kevin McDermott, WWU.

Men’s Field Athlete of the Week – Drew Klein, Central Washington

Third-career field athlete of the week, third this season.

Klein constructed the third-best decathlon score in Division II this spring, racking up 6,881 points at the Texas State Bobcat Invitational over the weekend. The junior posted the seventh-highest decathlon point total in GNAC history, while hitting PRs in the 100 meters (11.38), 400 meters (50.72) and 110-meter hurdles (15.20).

“We are building his speed and power bases and technical events, and that’s where we are seeing the most improvement,” said CWU head coach Jonathan Hill. “He has committed to the process, and he is doing a really good job of staying attempt-by-attempt and event-by-event. Drew is doing a good job of holistically focusing on the process. The meet wasn’t without its fair share of adversity. He broke a pole and was a little rattled, but he cleared the bar with a smaller pole on his next attempt. He’s got real warrior ethos.”

Also Nominated: Ryan Fenley, MSUB; Jarrett Chong, SFU; Troy Roberson, WWU.

Women’s Track Athlete of the Week – Ila Davis, Western Washington

Fourth-career track athlete of the week, second this season.

Davis ran the fastest steeplechase in Division II this year, putting forth a mark of 10:11.97 at the Stanford Invitational last week. Davis finished third among a highly-competitive field of 20 runners, with only athletes from BYU and Utah State finishing ahead of her. The two-time reigning GNAC champion in the event, Davis improved her collegiate PR at the meet as well.

Also Nominated: E’lexis Hollis, CWU; Carey Berendsen, MSUB; Annika Esvelt, SPU; Megan Roxby, SFU; Olivia Flack, WOU.

Women’s Field Athlete of the Week – Ellie DeGroot, Central Washington

Second-career field athlete of the week, second this season.

DeGroot put together all the pieces at the Texas State Bobcat Invitational, totaling 4,881 points for the nation’s fourth-best heptathlon score this spring. DeGroot notched PRs in the 100-meter hurdles (14.40), shot put (32’ 3”), 200 meters (25.17) and javelin (101’ 7”), and was the top non-Division I finisher among a field of 15 competitors at the event.

“Her breakthrough was coming, and we could see in the individual events that she was going to have a good hep,” Hill said. “We didn’t know it was going to be this good, but she was in a good headspace and the conditions were good. It was great for her to see a really high level of competition. She is working hard and just like with Drew we can’t wait to do another one and improve on that total.”

Also Nominated: Grace Jones, MSUB; Kalulusno Ngaida, WOU; Mara Parks, WWU.


Player of the Week – Denby Carswell, Simon Fraser

Third-career player of the week, third this season.

Carswell was the conference’s top finisher at the Hanny Stanislaus Invitational, placing seventh among a field of 92 players with a 6-under-par 210 (75-69-66). The freshman overcame a bumpy start to the tournament, as he shot a 3-over-par 75 with three bogeys and two double-bogeys in his opening round. He followed that with just three bogeys over his final 36 holes at the event, which culminated with a season-best 6-under-par 66. Seven of Carswell’s 16 birdies in the tournament came during his stellar final round, and he took advantage of the par-5 holes playing them at 6-under-par with zero bogeys. “Denby displays a level of maturity and discipline not often found among collegiate players,” said SFU head coach Matthew Steinbach. “He plays to his strengths and thinks his way around the golf course. I am happy with his continued success and am excited for him to lead our team heading into the postseason.”

Also Nominated: Liam O’Halloran, MSUB; Max Turnquist, SMU; Matteo Polla, WWU.